Tips For More Relevant AdSense Ads

I’ve been seeing the question raised a lot recently about how site owners can make their AdSense ads more relevant to their pages. Often the answer is just patience. It can take some time for AdSense to understand what your site is about when you first join the program, but in time the ads do become more relevant. In most cases it’s probably a matter of days, but you may want to give mediabot a week to explore your pages.

I’ve generally found the ads on this site to be very relevant to the page topic with the occasional off topic link showing up. Usually a refresh or two of the page is enough to increase the relevancy of the ads. Of course there are times when patience isn’t the answer. If you’re in the situation where waiting hasn’t brought with it a solution to the relevancy problem there are still things you can do to help AdSense along.

Improving AdSense Relevance

Most of the same things you would do to optimize a page for search results will also apply to the AdSense ads. Keep your page on topic and make use of your keywords throughout your page, perhaps paying particular attention near where the ads will apear on the page. I wouldn’t spend too much time over thinking your keyword density, but if you stay focused writing a page about custom muscle cars it’s likely you’ll mention enough terms to get some ads about them. If you jump around and write about several topics it’s possible you can be throwing AdSense off much the same way trying to target too many keywords on a single page can dilute the optimization of each.

As with typical seo you want to include your keywords in your page title, headings, URL, outgoing links, etc. All should give cues to mediabot what your page is about and what ads the page should be served. I’ve seen others claim that mediabot will pay more attention to your meta keywords than the more general Googlebot and that using keywords in your meta tags will help generate more relevant ads. I tend to doubt this as I would think both bots look at meta tags in much the same way. Feel free to knock yourself out and optimize your meta tags if you want, though. If it means anything I haven’t been using meta tags on the blog pages where I use AdSense and have never had a problem with ad relevancy.

Another thing to consider is your site in general. Not everyone agrees, but I’m of the opinion that AdSense goes beyond the single page to get an understanding of the topic of your site. I think this is one of the reasons it can take AdSense a few days to get things relevant when you first start placing ads. I’ve also written several post where I’ve used a running example throughout. The topic of the page itself might be seo, but the dominant keywords were on digital cameras. The ads still came back as seo ads. It’s possible that the use of seo related keywords in the page title and page headings and on the page itself were the determining factor, but I suspect AdSense does look beyond the given page.

Chances are if you’ve written about a single topic within your overall site topic and have made good use of keywords in your page titles and page heading you will see relevant ads,, but if you’re still having problems you can try to use section targeting. AdSense lets you use the google_ad_section_start and google_ad_section_end tags to let them know where you have gone off topic on your page and which sections of text to ignore when determining what ads to serve.

Google cautions that using the tags isn’t a guarantee and it can take up to two weeks before the tags are taken into account on existing pages. You’ll also still need to allow AdSense to read significant blocks of text with the tags. This isn’t about turning all your text off with the exception of one or two words you know pay more per click. The concept is more to have certain sections of the page ignored if you happen to go off topic for a paragraph or three.

Another option, though one that might not be as successful, is to block irrelevant ads. You can prohibit up to 200 ads from appearing on your site and if all your efforts still bring off topic ads simply block them in your AdSense account. It’s no guarantee the ad that replaces the blocked one will be any more relevant, but it’s worth a try and does at least keep one irrelevant ad from being displayed on your site.

Reasons The Ads Might Not Be Relevant

If you’ve done all of the above you’ll most likely be seeing relevant on topic ads, but if you’re still having issue you may want to consider a few things. It may be possible that your topic is in such a narrow niche that there are few to no ads to serve the page that are on topic. It’s not likely at this point in time, but it’s possible. You can always type your keywords into Google directly and see if any paid ads appear on your topic. If there aren’t any you may be out of luck until some advertisers in your niche sign up for AdWords.

It may be possible that your page doesn’t have enough content to determine what would be a relevant. If your page consists of a few images and a single line of text or is a series of unrelated links you may not be providing enough information. If this is the case the answer is an easy one. Provide more content for mediabot to spider and you should get better ads.

You may also want to look beyond your content to the outlying page header, footer, sidebars, and navigation on your site. Mediabot is reading more than your main content so it’s possible AdSense has been picking up on some less than relevant words you use outside of the main content. Many bloggers have received ads for blogging due to the mention of blog related words in their sidebar, menu, and even page title. If you think this is the reason for the lack of relevancy in the ads use section targeting to keep the focus on the page content.

One other thing to consider is that AdSense is having a momentary problem The system works well, but it’s not perfect. There are days where the ads don’t seem to be working well for me, but within a few hours or a day at most everything is back to it’s usual relevancy. It’s always possible the system has encountered a problem or is just in the middle of an update. There was a weekend in February I think where ads were down for much of the weekend when I believe a major update was going on behind the scenes. Again a little patience can go a long way.

Contact AdSense

As a last resort you can always contact the AdSense team through their contact form and ask them . I’ve had several contacts with the AdSense team (see my last post on google_hints) and they’ve always been very helpful. You may get an automated response from time to time, but in general it’s always been a real person on the other end of the email. Ask the team to take a look and see if they can determine why the ads are lacking relevancy. Keep in mind that the AdSense team probably gets a lot of email, so be polite and give them some detail on your problem. If you’re rude or don’t give them much to go on I wouldn’t expect a great response.

Most of the time the answer is simply patience. Give AdSense some time to understand your site and keep your site and pages on topic and the ads should become more relevant. If not try some of the ideas above and as a last resort ask the experts at AdSense. It’s still possible you may not get relevant ads, but if you follow the above tips the ad relevance should improve.

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  1. This post helps explain how to tweek your posts/site to get more relevant adsense ads. The point is that if the ads aren’t relevant, the will not get the clicks from those viewers who came to the page for specific content.

    See my blog on Adsense Information, Tools, and Techniques:

  2. Hi Steven,
    Great article. You can imagine why I am reading it :) I have a major Adsense relevance issue. I have done most of what you advise here and some of the excpetions you list do not include me, so I am wondering what else to do besides contacting Google adsense.
    -The relevance on my main front blog page is mind-boggling. For days it has listed ads on USB drivers, and there is not a single keyword associated to USB or drivers in all of my blog, all posts, meta-tags, keywords, anywhere.
    -The relevance between the ads is the same, as in, I get say all 5-6 ads in the skyscaper side bar that are related to each other, but have nothing to do with the post
    -About 4-5 days ago, I added the google-start and google-end to the HTML view of my posts, from start to end of the post. Still no luck but I understand it may take longer.
    If you have any other ideas, I am open to them. Otherwise, thanks for the suggestions!!

  3. Hi Steven,
    Well it was either karma or good luck or magic or just the right timing but it seems that just after this email, the persistent USB driver ads disappeared (for now). Thank you again for a great post. I will continue to monitor regardless.

    • Sounds like you got everything sorted out Farnoosh. I want to say glad I could help, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t do anything.

      Is AdSense on your site relatively new? It does take Google a few days to figure out what your site is about, but once they do the ads are usually pretty good. Might have simply been the change to using start and end tags. Maybe it just needed a little more time for Google to sort things out.

      Glad the ads are working now and thanks for liking the post.

  4. Hi Steven

    Thanks for a great article. I am having trouble with this at the moment with a new launch project called Goals On Target. The main part of the site is behind a login which we have provided to Google throuhh the site authentication in our AdSense account.

    By the looks of it its just not enough textual content and we will struggle to add more as the interface is light in wording. However your article has led me to plan a new strategy as follows:

    1. Ensure the url for the page has reference to the top paying target keywords – do some anaylsis on this and make the page names have these in the url.

    2. Ensure that the page keywords and meta tags are listed and relevant.

    3. Put some extra text in each page somehow, even if its at the bottom. Think I would get away with text ‘hidden’ in the span we ue to display the google ads?

    4. Use the alt tag on images to add text content and ensure the image names are named after keyword phrases.

    Does this sound like a good plan to you?



    • Jim, I don’t think #2 will have any effect, but I think it makes sense to test out the other 3 ideas. Ultimately the only way to know for certain what will work is to try.

      However are you sure AdSense is the best way to monetize the site? This is an old post and since writing it, I’ve come to see that AdSense isn’t usually the best money maker. It’s easy to set up and early on when monetizing a site it makes sense to use in part for the ease and in part to generate a baseline for what pages can earn.

      I might suggest that you could do better with affiliate products or direct ad sales, especially if your audience is one that is willing to register to view your content. They’ve taken an extra step to see what you have. You might even find charging for access to the content ends up being the better strategy for making money.

      I don’t want to dissuade you from using AdSense and again I think it’s worth testing your ideas. Just suggesting that there may and probably are going to be better ways to make money.

  5. I think the sidebars on my website have been affecting the ad types displayed on my site, now that you mention that this might be an influencing factor in ads displayed. I guess I’ll have to implement section targeting to achieve more ad relevancy. Thank you for the wonderful tips, Steven.

    • Glad I could help. Do keep in mind this is a pretty old post. I think everything here still holds true, but it is a 6 year old post so you may want to double check a few things to make sure they still work.

  6. I suspect there is more to the problem then what adsense sees on a site. I believe adsense follows the surfer and displays the ad on your site it should have shown on the last site the surfer visited. In other words, if the surfer searched for bed bugs and visited a bed bug site and maybe even clicked on an adsense bed bug ad, that surfer is going to see adsense bed bug ads everywhere for thirty days.

    • Probably true, though this is a 6 year old post so at the time I don’t think it was true. My thoughts about Google is if they can track something and use the data to improve their results, they will.

      Now that they can better know who we are as we travel around the web, I’m sure they do serve us ads on one site based on our behavior on another.

  7. I agree with the point that patience is required to let Adsense crawl the blog properly.
    Another thing I feel is keyword density which AdSense will take into consideration. So do use keywords and their synonyms often in the article.
    It has increase my CTR as well as CPC after a couple of trail error methods!

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